In 1995 I was 13 years old and specifically remember watching all the Pay-per-view (I used to think it was paper view) boxing matches on Saturday night. JC would order the fight, have a few buddies come over, and we’d hang out and score the rounds. This was when boxing was at one of its high points with great fighters like Julio Ceasar Chavez, Ricardo Lopez, Felix Trinidad, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis just to name a few. However, there was one fighter that stood out head and shoulders above everyone else, that was Mike Tyson. When I was younger I didn’t understand his life story but in recent time I’ve read his bio, watched some videos and now have some background on Iron Mike. As a kid, my only knowledge of him was that he was released from prison and punched harder than anyone else. A scary dude.
In 1991, he was convicted of rape against 18 year old Desiree Washington and sentenced to jail for 6 years. He was out in 4 and started his comeback in 1995. This video shows a bit about his training for the Peter McNeely bout which started the point of his career that I remember.
In 1999, after crushing a bunch of tomato cans, he met up with Evander Holyfield. I’d watch each of his 4 fights leading up to this huge event and was scared for his opponent each time Iron Mike got in the ring. I remember hearing someone tell me that Mike’s favorite punch (other than knocking Robin Givens across the room) was trying to knock a person’s septum through their brain with an upper cut. So with this thought in my mind, I honestly thought I had a chance of seeing someone get killed.
The Tyson-Holyfield fight was taking place with Tyson as a 25-1 favorite and Holyfield being “over the hill” at 34 years old and was coming back from a threatening illness. Once the bell went off I thought that Mike was going to kill this guy or give him a heart attack. Here’s the video and the first 10 seconds had me mortified. I sat there pale white like Casper, fearing for Holyfield’s life. Amazingly, it never happened. Holyfield was the tougher fighter, took everything Tyson had, and ended up winning the fight and essentially ending Tyson’s career. Tyson’s next fight was a rematch that ended with the ear-biting episode which is possibly the most bizarre event in boxing.
I can’t remember at any other point of my life being more fearful of someone dying. After watching Sam’s post about the 17 year old who was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have much time, these guys probably felt the same way.